What’s this all about?

Understanding Cocktails is for those of you who want to know a little bit more about what's going into that $15 drink you ordered last night. Perhaps you'd like to know what all the fussing behind the bar is about or maybe you'd like to be able to say something other than; "it's nice" when someone makes you a drink. Still not sure? Check the about section out for more details.

The Cosmopolitan

The poor maligned Cosmopolitan. The success of this drink is partially due to its colour and that it looks so damn fabulous in the movies or on tv. For a generation, this drink will be linked to Sex and the City much the same way a Martini is linked to James Bond. Drink snobs, like playground bullies, have decided to pick on the Cosmo. Ignore them. It is not just Hollywood veneer. It is a very likeable well-balanced drink that just happens to be pink. Made properly, there ain’t nothing girly about it.

What to look for

First tip when ordering one – look around and check to see if anyone is drinking something bright red out of cocktail glass. If they are, politely enquire with the bar staff if that’s a Cosmopolitan. If it is, order something else because they are obviously being heavy-handed on the cranberry and no good can come from that. Second tip – if it isn’t too busy, ask how they make their Cosmopolitans. Listen carefully. It’s not a complicated drink but there’s a million variations and a tendency to make it more difficult than it needs to be. Things you want to hear: “fresh limes, Cointreau, and dash of cranberry”. If fire is involved order one for the show, but it’s far from essential.


As with any drink, if your bartender inquires how you like your drink, you are probably on the right track. You don’t want your Cosmopolitan to be too sweet. The classic sour proportions work well in this drink.

Ladies, it’s okay for one drink an evening to match your dress and this is an excellent candidate. Gentlemen, there’s nothing wrong with having one of these either, although you’ll have to hand in your man card if you order second.

Either way, this drink is about being glamorous and beautiful. When you want to feel that way, order it up.

Enjoy the sour of the lime, the soothing of Cointreau, and of course the sharpness of the vodka along with a bracing chill. Like all good drinks, you should know there’s alcohol in it and that’s part of the pleasure. The cranberry is hardly noticeable. There are two great crimes against a Cosmopolitan: too much Cointreau and too much cranberry juice. Either one is bad – together they are horrid.

Here’s how an excellent Cosmopolitan is created:

  • 1.5 ounces vodka
  • 3/4 ounces of Cointreau
  • 1/2 ounces of lime juice
  • a splash of cranberry

Shake over ice and serve in a chilled cocktail glass.

Best enjoyed from late afternoon through the evening and pretty much any time of the year, although slightly less successful during a really hot summer afternoon (it gets warm too quickly).

The Cosmopolitan is included as one of the classic drinks in What Cocktail? – if you have a iPhone, you should definitely check out the app.